Bonneville recount concludes same result

AMMON — The results of the recent $56 million school bond election are unchanged Monday following a seven-hour vote recount in Bonneville Joint School District 93.

chuck-shackett
Bonneville Superintendent Chuck Shackett

The Bonneville County Elections Office determined only one vote was miscounted during the May 16 bond election and that was due to a voter error.

“There was one vote filled out incorrectly that wasn’t counted toward either side,” Elections Supervisor Penny Manning said. “It was filled out too lightly and couldn’t be read by the scanner. We examined it and determined the intent of the voter … but the percentages came out the same.”

The final percentage was 66.50 percent in favor of the bond. That’s just 17 votes shy of the 66.7 super-majority required for the measure to pass. The office reports 9,992 people voted with 6,645 in favor and 3,348 against the bond. The one miscounted vote was tallied against the bond.

The recount was funded by the Advocates for Education, a local advocacy group in favor of the school bond. They paid $2,300 in private donations for the county elections office to recount 22 of 24 precincts and the absentee ballots. The two remaining precincts aren’t being counted because very few people voted in those precincts.

School district officials said they weren’t surprised by the outcome, but said some questions still remain.

“We anticipated it to be pretty accurate, we weren’t really thinking it was going to be 17 votes off,” Superintendent Chuck Shackett said. “But I am concerned about absentee ballots in this election.”

Both Shackett and Heidi Southwick, the spokeswoman for Advocates for Education, are concerned that some absentee ballots were sent in by individuals who no longer live in the area that may be skewing the vote. She said her organization is investigating the absentee results.

“It’s not clear in the statutes what a qualified absentee voter is,” Southwick said. “As we’ve looked at the precinct reports we’ve been able to identify people whose primary residence isn’t in our area … and it is something we are concerned about.”

At present, neither the Bonneville School District nor the Advocates for Education are contesting the results of the race. But both groups said it is still an option on the table.